Tuesday, September 29, 2009

So lang fürs Erste!

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Today's the day.
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Bags are packed and I am proud to announce that I managed to get three week's worth of living into one. That's o-n-e! While that might not mean much to anyone but me, it represents huge strides for must-have-six-pairs of shoes-and four sweaters moi.
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The secret to my packing prowess? My rallying cry ... ESSENTIAL.
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Come to think of it, it's the same rallying cry I've formed for life.
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Until we meet again - here, there or anywhere ... So lang fürs Erste!
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So long for now.
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I always thank God for you
because of his grace given you
in Christ Jesus.
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For in Him you have been enriched
in every way—in all your speaking
and in all your knowledge—
(and in all your blogging)
because our testimony about
Christ was confirmed in you.
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Therefore you do not lack any
spiritual gift as you eagerly wait
for our Lord Jesus Christ
to be revealed.
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He will keep you strong to the end,
so that you will be blameless on
the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God, who has called you into fellowship
with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
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1 Corinthians 1:4-9

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Virtuoso

It's a term typically associated with fine art, though a virtuoso may themselves be greatly skilled in some endeavor. We often associate it with music, but in it's original form it included more; much more. At the root of the virtuoso is the virtuous.
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Few of us have not heard of the Proverbs 31 woman. I've grown to love her, though in younger days I thought her to be quite boorish, if not altogether ridiculous. The litany of her attributes left me with the sense that this lady was the original over-achiever!
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The referenced litany begins with the subject of her virtue: Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. (vs 10). The very fact that one might have difficulty finding anyone like her tells me why she's so valuable: She's rare!
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Of virtue we are told (by none other than Merriam) that it is: conformity to a standard of right, morality; a particular moral excellence; a commendable quality or trait; chastity especially in a woman.
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In all honesty I must confess that virtue, as a stand-alone quality, was not something I set about having in my youth. I suppose I had determined it to be all fluffy, pretty and Victorian - which certainly didn't suit my Annie Oakley persona in days of old. Yet it has become something of an intrigue to me, as if the having of it warrants a different perspective; one not readily had nor even understood in human terms.
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It is undeniable: virtue gets a bad rap by today's standards. It is also undeniable that just the opposite is held up as better fare. A glance at any magazine or movie will reveal what has become the modern woman's appeal, and it isn't virtue. I can't fault those seeking a facsimile, or those promoting it. They are, at the least, mis-guided.
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So, as I consider the stuff of virtue - it's components - I am less daunted than before. It is still a lofty ideal, or goal - if goals are what one strives for. If so, it's tough (if not impossible) to achieve.
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Virtue doesn't begin or end with itself. It's not a state one conjures up like a new hairstyle, or refurbished home. It's not a place at which you arrive, or remain. It is, at every turn, rooted in faith.
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The virtuoso who is cut from faith's cloth will find herself with amenities otherwise elusive. She has become rare.
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... whatever things are true, ...noble, ... just, ... pure, ... lovely, ...of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8
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... add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, ... 2 Peter 1:5
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... as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14
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"Virtue herself is her own fairest reward."
Silius Italicus
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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Estate Planning

"You cannot amputate your history
from your destiny, because that is redemption."
Beth Moore
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To which I add: "It is also your legacy."
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It's a strangely familiar concept, redemption. We know it well because we're all about the business of redeeming in one form or another. Afterall, we redeem leftovers by blending them into something new and savory. We redeem time by filing our nails or reading a book while we wait - for a plane, for a doctor's appointment, for a baby's arrival. We redeem a tough day with a bowl of ice cream, or by spending quiet time in God's word.
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Yes, I dare say we redeem far more than we make note of in any given day.
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But what about our history, that one Beth Moore links to our destiny? Is it possible that all the good, bad and ugly matters of it could ever conspire towards any meaningful purpose, let alone destiny?
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I think of ...
  • Joseph, and how the betrayal of his youth became the seque to his seat of power.
  • Samson, and how the folly of his lustful leanings became the platform for his valor.
  • Naomi, and how the sorrows of her losses became a milestone in God's salvation plan.
  • David, and how the short-sightedness of his desires became the source of his vision.

I also think of ...

  • Pharoah Ramses, and how his arrogance led to a nation's - Egypt - demise.
  • King Saul, and how conceit cost him his favor with God as well as his throne.
  • Haman, and how his anti-semitism led to his own death.
  • Jezebel, and how her power-hungry madness left her ravaged by dogs.

No doubt others come to your own mind; the lists are endless. They each represent history, and destiny, and legacy. It would seem we all leave something behind - either noble or ignoble. It would also seem that our estate has everything to do with how we respond to God's good news.

For the grace of God that brings
salvation has appeared to all men.
It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness
and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled,
upright and godly lives in this present age,
while we wait for the blessed hope —
the glorious appearing of our great
God and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to redeem us
from all wickedness and to purify for himself
a people that are his very own,
eager to do what is good.
Titus 2: 11-14

"But the more we search the Scriptures, the more we perceive, in this doctrine, the fundamental truth of the gospel - that truth which gives to redemption its character, and to all other truths their real power." John Nelson Darby

I know that my Redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand
upon the earth.

Job 19:25

It's amazing (and humbling) to think that my personal redemption is something I cannot affect in any way, shape or form. I can redeem things, but not souls. There is but one Redeemer, and that wouldn't be me.

Therefore, His destiny becomes my legacy, redeeming the entirety of my history. From there, He forms the extremely personal legacy I leave. I'd rather have what He crafts than what I can grip any day.

Now that's an estate worth having!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Passports, Itineraries & Eternity


In but a few days hubby and I will be making our way through the land of Belgium Chocolates before settling awhile in Bavarian Germany. Eventually we'll meander through the verdant Black Forest and all along the Rhine River. We'll dip into Tyrol, and then into northern Switzerland before trekking through the castle-laden hills of northern France, and home again.
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It would be a mistake, if not altogether short-sighted to leave the planning for such a journey to chance. In many ways we'll be making it up as we go (we do love a good adventure!). Yet there are the indispensables that chance cannot abide.
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Obviously we need a Passport for international travel. I have also derived much wisdom from the U.S. State Department website, where no end of travel advisories and much wisdom for entering a foreign land is free for the viewing.
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As I've made preparations for this real-life journey, I've also been simultaneously fine-tuning preparations for a journey of another sort; the one into eternity. It's been my desire to leave everything in order for those that come behind. Now that it's done, I have such a wonderful sense of freedom to travel without care.
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The setting in order process has entailed the updating of Wills; of granting a Power of Attorney; of ensuring our household and financial matters are taken care of; of making provision for our absence.
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Some might view such an initiative as morbid. I can assure you, it's been anything but.
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An unexpected but related by-product captured my attention just the other day. I tripped over a passage from the Gospel of John that rang clearer than my other readings of it:
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For You (the Father) granted Him (Jesus) authority over all people that He might give eternal life to all those you have given Him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (vs 3:2-3)
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It set me on a quest to search out like-passages. Though myriad, I've selected these few:
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... this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12
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... the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life ... John 3:14-15
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... He (Jesus) became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him Hebrews 5:9
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It is quickly apparent that eternal life is not to be achieved or acquired by some human effort. It is granted, and it comes as the result of Whose we are, not what we do. It's a gift - an oh-so costly one for certain - purchased already!
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As a child I was greatly disturbed - disquieted - when I'd peer into the sky and realize it has no end. From my earliest memories I understood there's no wall, or fence, or shield that binds the eternal nature of it all. It goes on and on forever, unending.
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So, while I plan in earnest for my European sojourn here, I plan in equal earnest for my sojourn there - - to that eternal place. I've got my Passport and my intinerary (with plenty of room for adventure); and I now fully understand the Laws of the land in which I'll be residing. My bags are packed.
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I can relax and think about those Belgium Chocolates!
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The sky no longer disturbs me either. It is mine.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Jewish Roots

The Jewish roots of Christianity never cease to amaze me, especially when I consider that Jesus is Himself a Torah-observant Jew - by design, by birth, by choice. In every way He is David's son & heir; King of kings and Lord of lords.
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The more I learn about these roots, the more I appreciate them, and Him. The Fall holidays - the high Holy Days - captivate me most of all. Shalom!
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September 18 - 20, 2009 - The Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashanah) is the Jewish New Year, and begins the high Holy Days. It is a celebration of the spiritual birthday of the world or creation, and is celebrated with blowing of the trumpets (Lev. 23:23-25). The Feast of Trumpets is a powerful prophetic look at the final days and Messiah’s return. Jewish eschatology teaches that on the Day of Atonement after six thousand years are complete, the Day of the Lord will come. On that day the shofar will sound and the righteous will be resurrected (Rev. 3:7-11).
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September 27 - 28, 2009 - The holiest day in the Jewish year, the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), is spent in fasting, prayer, and confession. This was one gracious day a year given by God that each individual could receive forgiveness. The high priest enters the holy of holies to make atonement for the nation by sacrificing an animal (Lev. 23:26-32). Jesus has provided our atonement, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” (Rom. 3:23) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Him.
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October 2 - 9, 2009 - Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth or Booths) is celebrated as outlined in Leviticus 23:33-43. This seven-day harvest festival, during which the Jewish people are told to live in “booths,” or temporary shelters, is a reminder to future generations of how the Israelites had also lived in booths when God delivered them out of Egypt. A number of Christians believe this is the date of Christ’s birth when He came to “tabernacle among us.” We should look forward expectantly to the Feast of Tabernacles, just as we look forward to the coming of the Messiah to bring His government, His Kingdom, and His laws (Mic. 4:1).
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Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Messy Morass


It's a mixed blessing to have been born youngest of four girls. On the one hand my position in the family made way for much fussing and nurture, especially since I arrived on the scene late in my parent's life - my mother was 42, my father 46 when I was born.
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The girls - the big sisters - had advanced in years by then as well - Dolores was 15, Barbara 13, and Carol 7 (pictured with me in photo). Imagine their dual dilemma over the new damsel's delivery: delight as well as disturbance, I'm sure!
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My thoughts today aren't so much about my birth-order or my sisters - precious treasures that they are to me. Today I'm prompted to use my experience as the context and framework for a subject - a condition - that has long plagued me: vainglory.
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Thus it is that I take my first steps into the sea of that vainglorious morass. Where do they lead me? Why, to Merriam - of course!
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Vainglory means: an excessive or ostentatious pride - especially in one's achievements; a vain display or show. It is synonymous with vanity - but much, much more personal. Vanity might shrink, but vainglory will have none of that (unless it suits one's covert purposes)!
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Moreover, it's a real pitfall for those of us that learned from the cradle the finer nuances of people-pleasing and attention-grabbing. Worse, it is the mantle for those that seek hard after recognition; recognition born of need and rooted in insecurity. ..

Man has always sacrificed truth
to his vanity, comfort and advantage.
He lives by make-believe.
W. Somerset Maugham
...
King Solomon spoke of it throughout the Book of Ecclesiastes. In the style and tone of Eeyore we hear him as he ticks off a litany of life's vanities.
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You would think the wisest man of the ages could have, and would have escaped so great a folly.
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Then again, perhaps much of his wisdom was born of those very fruitless pursuits he speaks of.
..
Do they like me?
Am I enough?
Do they approve of me?
Do I have enough?
Have I done enough?
Do I look good?
Do I sound good?
What if I'm misunderstood?
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I imagine Paul had given Solomon's condition some thought when he spoke of vainglorious efforts (in this case, the sort of Gospel men were preaching) that were causing some to buy into a slick counterfeit:

Am I now trying to win the approval
of men, or of God?
Or am I trying to please men?
If I were still trying to please men,
I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10
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At times it would appear the scriptures actually encourage people-pleasing. Upon closer inspection it's pretty easy to make out the distinction about what it is, exactly, scripture would have us know on that subject.
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It has everything to do with the object of glory - - and that object has little to do with me, myself and I.
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It's a tough reality for those of us that need to be affirmed. It's not that being affirmed is a bad thing in itself. Heaven knows we live in community and are born with the need for nurture. We die with that same need.
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It's just that when the need and, dare I say the desperate need for affirmation becomes the motivation behind one's words and works that it steps over into vainglory.
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Here's the underbelly of that not-so-admirable condition: we even do it with God. We convince ourselves He'll love and accept us if we're good, or if we perform His work well, or if we pray this way or that, or if _______(fill in the blank) - - as if it (whatever it is) depends on me, myself and I.
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I wonder how much grief we might spare ourselves were we to lay it all down? Here's where I can speak from my own personal experience to answer my own question: a boatload!
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Oh may I never forget (and I will) that it's not about me at all. It's about Him, and it's about them.
....
For what profit is it to a man
if he gains the whole world,
and loses his own soul?
Or what will a man give
in exchange for his soul?
Matthew 16:26
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Therefore, whether you eat or drink,
or whatever you do,
do all to the glory of God.
Give no offense, either to the Jews or
to the Greeks or
to the church of God,
just as I also please all men in all things,
not seeking my own profit,
but the profit of many,
that they may be saved.
1 Corinthians 10:21-33

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Night Arrival

Since January of 2000, Arizona has been our home. Hubby and I migrated here to eradicate the webbed feet acquired while living 50+ years in the Pacific Northwest. We have never looked back.
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It also put us in proximity to my sister Barbara (2nd oldest of we four girls; shown here) - the one I often refer to as the Sister-Mom. Throughout my life she has spoken buoyancy into my soul; and all the more since our mother's passing long ago.
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Yes, Arizona is officially home now. I realize it's climate is not for everyone. Having just passed through another of it's summers I understand how 110 degree temperatures might be daunting to some.
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I'm daunted at times too - in particular on those nights when the thermometer hovers at 85 degrees and the air conditioner (and dollars) run non-stop. On those nights it would seem the sun has never set.
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So now that the days have shortrened and the temperatures are gradually descending, I welcome night and the promises it brings. What incredible, limitless promises they are!
..
When the sun has at last bedded down for the night, I step outside and my skin is awakened to the cool; my heart lights up as though darkness is but a pretender.
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It is then that night air reveals the scent of something vague, but gripping nonetheless.
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Is it the convincing proof that night has truly fallen? Could it be the promise of those things to come, like sunrise, or pumpkin pie, or the decorating of a Christmas tree? Maybe it's the knowing that I'll soon be able to leave windows open at night, silencing the air conditioning? Or perhaps it's the certainty that children and grandchildren and sisters will be arriving from far away to enjoy the unique beauties of the forever-Spring that rises here in October?
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Then again, might it not be the bigger, grander promise that every promise spoken by God will all come to pass ... maybe tonight?
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Whatever it is, it is welcome - even if it only arrives at night.
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Night, the beloved.
Night, when words fade
and things come alive.
When the destructive analysis
of day is done,
and all that is truly important
becomes whole and sound again.
When man reassembles
his fragmentary self
and grows with the calm of a tree.
Antoine De Saint-Exupery
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Etched Upon the Heart

I tore through the pages of the book as if my very life depended on it. What I thought to be a fictional work at first glance was, in reality, a non-fictional expose of a diabolical scheme. I simply could not believe what I was reading.
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It took me several days to make my way through it, that book, and when at last I reached "The End", a most uncomfortable stirring gave rise to goosebumps. They were not the sort of goosebumps one gets from any pleasant cause. They rose with a peculiar darkness about them.
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It really matters little WHAT* book I'd been reading. Suffice it to say it has occurred on many occasions as I've read through or listened to something that my deepest knower understands to be wrong, false ... even an outright lie ... and even when my conscious mind isn't altogether sure why.
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Long before I became adept at finding my way around God's word (a process that never ends), His presence in my life has often kept me from buying into the aberrant. It's what happened that time long ago as I read through the aforementoined book.
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What mortals had served up as fact was anything but. My head didn't know why; but my heart did.
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Etched within and upon my heart by the skilled hands of God - so faithful a Father - is Truth. I'm not always quick to "get it", and while I certainly don't understand it all, I have come to believe I can trust the power of His presence, and His restraints.

I have come to trust in His discernment - the wisdom of the ages - that lays before me the way to go as well as the caution about where NOT to go, or what to buy into.

More and more I listen - not as swift-footed as I was in my youth when I'd run ahead, or when I'd fall for tall tales, or when I thought an emotional reaction to something was an automatic endorsement.

More-and-more I trust His process. It is etched upon my heart.
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He purified their hearts by faith. Acts 15:9
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Now it is God who makes us ... stand firm
in Christ.
He anointed us,
set His seal of ownership on us,
and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit,
guaranteeing what is to come.
2 Corinthians 1:21-22
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For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6.
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God sent His Son ... to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts ... Galatians 4:4-6
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"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant ...
I will put my laws in their minds and
write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people."
Hebrews 8:8, 10

..

(*) It was during the early 1980s, and the book I mention is "Holy Blood, Holy Grail", the forerunner to Dan Brown's "The DaVinci Code"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

From a Canine Perspective

HOW TO CLEAN THE TOILET BOWL
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Put both lids of the toilet up and add 1/8 cup of pet shampoo to the water in the bowl.
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Pick up the cat and soothe him while you carry him towards the bathroom.
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In one smooth movement, put the cat in the toilet and close both lids. You may need to stand on the lid.
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The cat will self agitate and make ample suds. Never mind the noises that come from the toilet, the cat is actually enjoying this.
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Flush the toilet three or four times. This provides a "power-wash" and rinse".
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Have someone open the front door of your home. Be sure that there are no people between the bathroom and the front door.
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Stand behind the toilet as far as you can, and quickly lift both lids.
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The cat will rocket out of the toilet, streak through the bathroom, and run outside where he will dry himself off.
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Both the commode and the cat will be sparkling clean.
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Signed,
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The Dog
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My deepest apologies to cat lovers everywhere, but I simply could not resist this one!

Getting to the Facts


We all know that facts are funny little things. They either help or hinder us. And, given the fact that I live with a fact-collector (aka hubby), I'm usually pretty cautious about my personal fact-giving. .


Facts are stubborn things;
and whatever may be our wishes,
our inclinations, or the dictates
of our passion, they cannot alter
the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams
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Like you, I get a plethora of email forwards about this or that worrisome thing. I've learned (the hard way) to get my facts straight before parroting anything, though I must admit that some facts are harder than others to ferret out.
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Here's what www.FACTCHECK.org (a non-partisan resource) has to say in summary about President Obama's Health Care claims this week. If you want to read the full peace, click here: Health Care.
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Summary
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President Obama’s prime-time address to Congress and the nation on health care prompted a Republican congressman to shout “you lie!” Did he? Here’s what we’ve found:.


  • Obama was correct when he said his plan wouldn’t insure illegal immigrants; the House bill expressly forbids giving subsidies to those who are in the country illegally. Conservative critics complain that the bill lacks an enforcement mechanism, but that hardly makes the president a liar.
  • ..
  • The president said “no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.” But the House bill would permit a “public option” to cover all abortions, and would also permit federal subsidies to be used to purchase private insurance that covers all abortions, a point that raises objections from anti-abortion groups. That’s true despite a technical ban on use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortion coverage.
  • .
  • The president repeated his promise that his plan won’t add “one dime” to the federal deficit. But legislation offered so far would add hundreds of billions of dollars to the deficit over the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
  • .
  • The president overstated the degree of concentration in the insurance industry. He said that in 34 states the "insurance market" is controlled by five or fewer companies, but that’s true only of insurance bought by small groups, not the entire "insurance market."
  • .
  • Obama said his plan won’t “require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have.” It’s true that there’s no requirement, but experts say the legislation could induce employers to switch coverage for millions of workers.
..
Over and out ... and THAT's a fact!
.
...
Resources/Fact Checking ...
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SNOPES: http://www.snopes.com/
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REFERENCE DESK: http://www.refdesk.com/
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BING: http://www.bing.com/?scope=web&FORM=ZDLE
..

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Senior Truthisms (the Short List)

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Yes! I'm A Senior Citizen
..
You know you're getting old when you stoop to tie your shoes and wonder what else you can do while you're down there.
  • I'm the life of the party -- even if it lasts until 8PM.
    .
  • I'm very good at opening childproof caps -- with a hammer.
    .
  • I'm usually interested in going home before I get to where I am going.
    .
  • I'm smiling all the time because I can't hear a thing you're saying.
    .
  • I'm aware that other people's grandchildren are not nearly as cute as mine.
    .
  • I'm not really grouchy, I just don't like traffic, waiting, crowds, lawyers, loud music, unruly kids, Toyota commercials, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather, barking dogs, politicians and a few other things I can't seem to remember right now.
    .
  • I'm sure everything I can't find is in a safe secure place, somewhere.
    .
  • I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
    .
  • I'm sure they are making adults much younger these days; and when did they let kids become policemen?
    .
  • Yes, I'm a SENIOR CITIZEN and I think I am having the time of my life!

You know you are getting old when you go for a mammogram and you realize it is the only time someone will ever ask you to appear topless in film.

Women over 50 don't have babies because they would put them down and forget where they left them.
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Friday, September 11, 2009

We Remember

No doubt we are all, on some level, reflecting today on that day of horror - September 1, 2001 - and the days that followed it. Words like stunned, incredulous and heartbroken pale in comparison to the gravity we all felt and, even now, find difficult to articulate.
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My youngest son penned the following letter to our family the day following the 9/11 attacks. They are his own personal reflections, but they represent the vast majority. I can think of no better way to remember the day than to read it again and to share it with you.
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In lieu of comments, please join me in prayer instead. Pray for the families that lost loved ones on that day, and for the government leaders that must continue to be wise and vigilant as they ensure our national security. Pray for people everywhere, that their security would be found in Jesus.
..
Kelly writes ...
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Yesterday morning around 6:50 AM I received a call from my Operations Manager. He told me that there had been some sort of terrorist action involving two planes crashing into the World Trade Center. He also said that other American targets were being hit. It was my responsibility to contact all of our crews; and to divert them from downtown buildings as well as the project at Sea Tac airport - the new control tower we were working on.
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As I called the staff I couldn't help but wonder what, exactly, I was preparing them for.
.
After I had called everyone it really set in what was happening. I picked up the nearest phone and repeatedly called the house, without any response. It was probably 30 minutes before I got ahold of my wife. In some non-understandable way, I needed to hear her voice. I had two requests for her to grant me.
.
The first request was for her to turn on the TV (I wanted another person to pinch me to wake me up).
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The second request was to have her contact my mother in Arizona to find my dad (who travels on planes often). She agreed to do this, but would need to call me back.
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During the next ten minutes I managed to hot wire an antenna to our conference room TV well enough to catch a fuzzy image of the first tower's collapse. By now, two or three people had trickled in to see what I was up to, only to be taken back by the images unfolding before their eyes.
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I sat with them for a few minutes without a single word spoken amongst us. Then my phone rang and the Caller ID told me the call was from home.
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I didn't want to hear the news in fear of what it could be. I know that my dad travels on planes several times a week, which would bring the odds up considerably from most people. I had just been reflecting in the minutes prior on my solo fishing trip to the Yakima River where I had missed my friend, my dad.
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As Trina spoke, and since her voice was not stuffed full of horror or sorrow, I smiled because I knew my dad was safe.
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I promptly hung up so I wouldn't miss the events on the Channel Seven news. It was about ten minutes later that I posed the question to myself regarding the potential for a full out war that included my state, country, city, and home.
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At that moment my focus changed completely to one of fear; of not being with my family at what was possibly our last hours or minutes in the event of a full blown attack.
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I spoke with several staff members and decided to stay at the branch until we could get a formal decision from senior management. We sat huddled in this one small room around the television like eight year-olds around a snake or a frog. We ordered pizza around 10:00 AM, having accepted that no work would be completed that day.
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Eventually we elected to close the branch and go to be with our loved ones. This allowed me time in the car to reflect on the events that had transpired. I knew my value-system had changed forever, and that life would never be the same in my heart and mind.
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I know what it really means to love life and to smell the roses. The problem I was working on now was to try to explain to a six year-old what had happened. How do you do that? If you know how, please explain what happened to me.
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I feel like a six year-old today.
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As we sat down to dinner that night I traveled outside of my box and asked Trina to say Grace for the first time in our marriage.
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What I didn't tell her was that I had been saying Grace for eight hours straight.
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In error I haven't taken much time to express my love for many more people than my wife and kids. I hate that it has taken something like this to remind me how much every person in my life means to me, regardless of personal differences.
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It breaks my heart that I watched every person I know live and die for a brief second in my mind on Tuesday; and for some that second will last a lifetime.
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I love you with every ounce of my soul. I wouldn't trade any one of you for all the gold in Fort Knox.
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Kelly
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Wind

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My car radio knows but two stations: KFLR (Christian) and KSNX (Country). There would be a third, Classical, but most of the local stations are enamored of Vivaldi. Not my favorite (can anyone some morose?)!
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While driving to my office early one morning, I was mindlessly musing and missed nearly the entirety of a song I'd never heard before. But I didn't miss the one line that interrupted my musings and etched itself into my consciousness.

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The artist sang: la la la la felt the wind before it ever hits my skin la la la la.
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Can I just say that phrase is with me still?
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How does someone feel the wind before it touches the skin? Is it even possible?
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In the real world, no way. But in the realm of the imagination or, more aptly, the realm of the spirit - wind has an uncanny ability to awaken the skin long before it's unseen and mysterious force makes its way across one's flesh.
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Gentle and soothing or fierce and foreboding, wind is a portent like no other. There's nothing magical about it; only mystery. To the one it becomes the enabling element by which a man is made flexible; able to bend and bend again. To the other it becomes the eager enemy by which a man is made to break.
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Whether gentle or fierce, wind moves things - often felt long before it ever hits the skin.
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Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it. Winston Churchill
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Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other. Oliver Wendell Holmes
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We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Dolly Parton
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I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things... I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. Leo Buscaglia
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Men do change, and change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass. John Steinbeck .

"Flesh gives birth to flesh,
but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.
You should not be surprised at my saying,
'You must be born again.'
The wind blows wherever it pleases.
You hear its sound,
but you cannot tell where it comes
from or where it is going.
So it is with everyone
born of the Spirit."
John 3:6-8
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No wind serves him who addresses his voyage to no certain port. Michel de Montaigne
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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Barking Versus Bleating

I've had the book for a long time. It was first published in 1983 but I believe it came to me well over ten years ago - - no doubt a gift from someone wanting me understand more about my own sheepness. I've read it at least once; perhaps twice. Yet when I picked it up this morning I found myself enthralled with something I'd not really given much thought to before.

All the while I've been bleating when I ought to have been barking.

Let me explain.

First, this is not a book review; nor am I promoting one. It just happens that this particular work has tutored me more than once. And, as they (who are they(1) anyway?) say: When the student is ready the teacher will appear.

I must have been ready, because today my tutor is a Border Collie.

The scriptures often portray believers as sheep individually; flocks collectively. How appropriate! Thus I've often nodded in recognition of the similarities in attributes (mostly in other people; probably the theys). A few include the fact that sheep are:
  • Not real bright (a polite way of saying dumb)
  • Given to gluttony (they eat so much that when they
    lie down they can't get up again)
  • Likely to mindlessly wander away from the flock
  • Trusting beyond belief
  • Often oblivious to danger
  • Cute

OK, I just tossed in cute.

I doubt that I've ever really given much thought to the role and function played by the sheep dog. Mostly I've concentrated on sheep, and sometimes even a few goats.

Now I'm beginning to comprehend (which is different than plain old knowing) just how vital is the sheep dog in the life and health of the flock. Seems, too, that any mutt will do provided it has a sheep dog's heart and a love for its master. What's more, a good sheep dog doesn't have to like the sheep so long as it (he/she) loves the Master.

Mmmm

The lessons are further issued from there, which means I probably need to spend a lot more time with my Master. Surely there's more to this tail tale I need to glean.

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(1) In the case of this particular quote, it is actually an ancient Buddhist Proverb

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Monday, September 7, 2009

Blessed and Honored


Honored; that's what runs through my thoughts today.
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Lisa Shaw - that prolific lady who's million-dollar smile and a heart to rival it - has invited me to be a Guest Blogger at her site.
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Here's someone you'll find in the real world of everyday ministry as she, along with her husband, encourage people throughout the spectrum - whether at church, or amid the everyday lives of believers and non-believers alike. Look closer and you'll find her all over cyberspace - from a robust (and multiple) blogging realm to Facebook and elsewhere.
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I've often tried to figure out when Lisa sleeps. From dawn to dusk she's about her Father's business, not to mention those aspects that summon her to the roles of mother and grandmother.
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So last week I pondered and prayed, penned and re-penned a piece she has now posted. I wish I could tell you it was a cinch. The truth is, it was much, much harder to craft something for someone else than it is to pen something for my own Blog. (Click here to hop over to Lisa's place @ Sharing Life).
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As if there weren't already enough blessing to bury me, Lisa's generous invitation has opened wide a door through which a small contingent of new friends have flooded. What a precious and unexpected by-product of her largesse and God's goodness!

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Thank you, Lisa!
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And thank you, all the wonderful new friends that have dropped in to leave comments, or who've sent email. What great fun it's been for me to meet you. Moreover, what great glory for the God we serve together.
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It's been just a little over two years since I began my blogging endeavor. What amazes me most is how many deep and lasting friendships have formed with people I may never actually meet outside of cyberspace. Each has a style and grace all their own; and each certainly has a place in my heart.
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Here it seems utterly appropriate to simply say "Wow"!
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God bless you, one and all - and especially my dear hostess Lisa.
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Kathleen


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For more about Lisa, click here to read her Bio.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Babeling

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This just cracks me up! There's a website resource called Babelfish that allows you to input a text in your native lanquage, select a language you want it translated into, and then wait for the instant translation. How cool is that?
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I'm, das nach Deutschland geht!
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So there you have it. With a click of my mouse I've announced to Germany at large that I'm on my way (the end of the month). Now I can babel away without anyone suspecting I know absolutely nothing about the German dialect (and not much more about the English one either).
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Between Merriam and Babel lies a Sea of Definitions ... at least for this Deutschland sojourner. What fun to navigate such interesting waters.
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P.S. Merriam has an issue with babel, preferring it to read babble, which means: to talk enthusiastically or excessively, or to utter meaningless or unintelligible sounds. Then again, even in cyberspace much gets lost translation.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

Beware of Bears

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With no particular agenda in mind, I channel-surfed my way through a number of T.V. stations before deciding upon a movie; one that was already in progress. At first I thought it was a National Geographic special given its Alaskan backdrop. Before long, I was captivated with curious awe. I sat revited for the next hour or two.
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From the very first moments of Grizzly Man I had the sense that nothing good was going to come to the man featured in the film, Timothy Treadwell. For all of his naturalist views and, in particular, his love of and advocacy for grizzly bears, he was a man whoses hinges seemed perilously loose.

When the movie ended it left me with more questions than it had answered. So I set about gathering more information that might better equip me to understand the horrible fate that consumed Timothy, literally. There just had to be more to the story than the photo footage and drama depicted on screen.
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There's a lot that is good about this true saga. The beauty of Alaska's wilds, the clever charm of the little foxes, and even the brute beauty of the grizzly. I enjoyed gathering tidbits of knowledge about Katmai, and about the Grizzly Maze.
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There's also a lot - a whole lot - that's tragic about the story too. Certainly Timothy's life and travails were myriad and complex, but what nagged me most is this: He saw himself as one of them; one of the grizzlies. He wasn't content to be in their world; he insisted upon being of their world.
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That distinction is what nagged me most. It had such a familiar ring.
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Timothy, like anyone coming and going in close proximity to grizzly habitat had been warned; and warned again. He'd been discouraged rather than applauded for his undertakings. His singular will was naive at best; and a death-wish at worst. It cost him his life.
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I have reflected on the story of Timothy Treadwell many times since discovering it that fateful day in 2005. It has become an object lesson - a modern day parable - that reminds me of the need for vigilance as I go about the business of living.
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The minute I begin seeing myself of the world is the minute I am no longer safe in it.
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If you belonged to the world,
it would love you as its own.
As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you
out of the world..
John 15:19
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We have not received the spirit
of the world but the Spirit who is
from God, that we may understand
what God has freely given us.
1 Corinthians 2:12
...
... don't you know that friendship
with the world is hatred toward God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend
of the world becomes
an enemy of God.
James 4:4

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